Gather a group of soccer players from any level, age or gender and they can all find one common topic to discuss/debate: What cleats do you wear?
After all, shoes -- or boots -- are the most important piece of technology a soccer player can bring to the field. Leather or synthetic? Nike or Adidas? Or Puma? Or Diadora? Black and white or purple and "electricity"?
Over the past few weeks, I grabbed a couple of Sporting Kansas City players -- Davy Arnaud, Matt Besler, Michael Harrington and Roger Espinoza -- to discuss this very topic.
Before this season, Espinoza had primarily been a left midfielder and a left fullback. After he returned from the Gold Cup (where he played for Honduras), he was moved to central midfield. It's a role that's stuck for him.
Instead of focusing on the techs and specs of shoes with Espinoza, I wanted to discuss a story I'd heard from Michael Flaherty, the team's equipment manager.
The Full 90: I heard you took an equipment bag full of shoes to Honduras.
I did, in the offseason. I went for vacation and took some stuff for some family and for the people in the neighborhood where I grew up. I took some shoes -- not just old shoes, I also took a couple of soccer balls. I spoke to Adidas and Mike [Flaherty] and [gathered up] some used cleats and clothes.
The Full 90: Did you become the mayor of the neighborhood for a few days?
[Laughs] Yeah, it was fun being there. I know people were excited to see me because I hadn't been there in a while and they'd seen me play for the national team [in the 2010 World Cup]. It was exciting.
We go through cleats, and, you know, we might not be able to use them here -- but over there, they'll wear 'em for the next couple of years.
The Full 90: Right, even if it's got a little split in the front, it doesn't matter that much.
A little hole? Eh. It works for them. When you're younger, you don't go through as many cleats. Being here with sponsors and stuff you get a lot more cleats. Because you got to show them there's a new shoe coming every month. You got to wear the new ones.
The Full 90: You wear a pretty basic pair. Are those the adiPures?
Yeah, I usually wear these. Many of the guys do. Adidas sends me these and I get to wear them all the time. I like them. They are very comfortable cleats.
Kids love them [in Honduras]. Kids get excited to wear some pro's shoes. It doesn't always have to be new for them. It can be used. People over there are always in need of something.
The Full 90: Do you remember what your first pair of shoes were?
I can't remember. My mom sure remembers. She could probably tell you how excited I was.
The Full 90: I bet you slept in them didn't you?
Probably I did. With a soccer ball.
Wear it like a Pro
Espinoza, as he said, wears the adiPures. They are very popular on the team -- Chance Myers and Luke Sassano wear red ones, Julio Cesar wears them in white or black I believe.
The shoe is a durable leather with a classic Adidas look. They retail for $140 or so.
These are the primary pair that Roger wears.